Friday, August 31, 2012

Before You Major in Finance...

A lot of readers (and people in general) really like economics and finance.  They find it intellectually engaging and intriguing.  And they should because it is.

Just don't major in it.

I say this because I majored in it and, though, you would think it is a practical degree with mathematical aptitude, the entire industry is a cronyistic, nepotistic, brown-nosing mess that puts a premium on connections over mathematical genius. 

And as an aside, yes, there will be a consequence to such a vital component of the US economy being corrupted. Namely, the confiscation/eradication of your precious 401k.

But, again, to quote Michael Savage,

"You don't want to hear about that.  No, no, you much rather hear about some guy hitting a ball over a fence."


Take The Red Pill said...

"...the entire industry is a cronyistic, nepotistic, brown-nosing mess that puts a premium on connections over mathematical genius."

Thanks to political 'pull', AA and Feminism, the engineering and technology fields are slowly being corrupted the same way.

Enjoy the decline while everything starts to fall apart.

Anonymous said...

u mad, captain

Amateur Strategist said...

I think my comment might have helped prompt this post, and I will have to agree.

Folks, if you are planning on majoring in Finance because you REALLY want to work in Finance, don't.

This doesn't mean you will never work in Finance (though the odds look grim anyway), but you need to go about it another way.

Major in Engineering (one of the hard ones, make sure it is a hard science) and work really REALLY hard at it. Then once you are done, study for and pass the CFA exam (Chartered Financial Analyst if you want to be a Financial Analyst) or CFP or whatever you plan to do.

This way, you will have all the skills to do the financey stuff (more actually, my homework was easier because I could understand calculus and didn't have to take the book's word on things that two things were related with very different results) AND you will have Engineering skills to fall back on if it turns out (gasp!) you can't get a job in Finance without some serious schmoozing/networking/whatever.

Don't laugh, I wish I had known how bad it would be to try to get a job in Finance before I started. I'd still have done it (well, the way I outlined above), but I thought it would just be about developing my skills, not branching out to people, pretending to be their friend and then talking my way into a job.

Anonymous said...

" over mathematical genius."

There's a good argument that part of the mess we are in is due to an over-application of mathematical genius in Finance circles.

And an under application of basic math.

Anonymous said...

The USA government will never need to confiscate your 401(k).

If they need money, they'll just print more.

Anonymous said...

A brown nosing mess?
So is computer science nowadays.
Or electrical engineering.
Or basically any productive part of any industry.

Why? c.. I mean 'women' can brown-nose their way to a degree, riding on other people's work, then pretend to be productive in these industries.

Why? Engineering majors are some of the biggest betas you could find around. lol. Thus they'll do anything for some pussy. Thus these gals get a free ride to graduation, and nobody expects them to do anything in the workplace anyways.

Steve Adams said...

So, if all of these areas are based on brown nosing there should be a great opportunity to beat them with non-brown nosing hiring - no?

Hitting the white ball over the fence is indeed dumb. Running and throwing an oblong ball now that's worth ignoring the bankruptcy of the nation.

Anonymous said...

Look, even now, companies actively go to universities to recruit students. Companies even go to, in my opinion, semi-crap universities.

Maybe professors and universities should do a better job at telling students how to go to career fairs, company presentations and events, join a related society/club, have their resumes looked over, have mock interviews, ect. Besides the point, students should be able to recognize looking for a job the last semester of senior year is a bad idea.

There are certain things employers are looking for in students. With accounting, for example, companies are looking for students who will finish with 150 credits, have basic social skills, and a decent GPA (even as low as 3.0 in some cases), and maybe double major.

You could be out there doing your own thing and have your own business without college. Captain mentioned it before... you go to college, you are there to make connections and a network. "Developing my skills" and work ethic are only parts of the whole equation.

You don't play by the rules that are in place, what is the point of going to college? You have the opportunity to be doing so many other things with your time. College is an absolute waste of time.

Anonymous said...

What about an economics degree?

Pulp Herb said...

As a mathematician by college, computer programmer by trade, and mechanic by the Navy who works in finance as a quant I concur.

Plus, taking the Captain's remark, "...the entire industry is a cronyistic, nepotistic, brown-nosing mess that puts a premium on connections over mathematical genius", the quant group I'm in is very much not that. While I technically got in by what people would call networking here is what networking consisted of:

I post to Atlanta Perl Mongers (group of Perl programmers): "Hey, I want to move to Atlanta. What are the Perl jobs there?"

Future co-worker: "Hey, I work in a mathematical modeling group for a big bank. We've got 20k processors, 4 TB of storage, a daily chess puzzle, and pay well. Send me your resume."

From there it was:

1. Questionnaire
2. Programming test
3. Phone interview
4. In person interviews including another programming test and code reviews of both.

While I'd say they did put a premium on some things over mathematical genius those things were programming skill and demonstrated drive to learn. I missed some questions on the deep internals of Perl on the phone interview and made sure I not only knew them but found ways in the second programming test via some non-standard choices to show I knew them. When asked why I made certain non-standard choices I explained why. I'm convinced that pushed me over the edge into getting the position.

Back to the broader point, when I got the reply on the mailing list the description said "mathematics, engineering, or hard science degree preferred. Opportunity to learn finance on the job."

Pulp Herb said...

There's a good argument that part of the mess we are in is due to an over-application of mathematical genius in Finance circles.

Even though I work as a quant I agree. Some days I really think I'm just programming "World of Moneycraft" servers and neither create wealth or assist the creation of wealth. In my experience most computer programming tends to the later over the former. When I worked for the cabinet company I didn't build a single cabinet but when we lost all our computer systems for 2 days production dropped by a two-thirds.

But here? It's hard to see sometimes.

Still, you go where the jobs and the pay is. Google might try to poach from my group (certainly the CFO considers them competition for people) but they don't really offer any more money (especially when contrasting cost of living of California vs. Atlanta), any more challenge (it is challenging work), any more interesting work, or a better working environment.

Still, it can't be good for brilliant people (and we do have several) in mathematics, physics, and physical chemistry to be working on how to better hedge mortgages and predict mortgage pre-payment then inventing new stuff.

Anonymous said...


Do you go to an Ivy League, Stanford, Chicago, or NYU? If so, major in what you want and focus on being the biggest frat-boy douchebag you possibly can be, regardless of whether or not being a frat-boy douchebag is really in your personality. Join the in-crowd and be taken care of by it.

Are you studying at State U or Local U? Don't touch Econ with a ten-foot pole.

Rick Caird said...

I don't remember who said it, but the turth is:

"It doesn't matter if you 'get' politics. Politics is going to get you."

While you are watching ESPN, your retirement is in jeopardy.

Unknown said...

I think you should look into volunteer work to help "keep your mind sharp". I'm sure any organization
would be happy to have you volunteer, even if just for a few hours a week. Maybe even at your local
library? I've definitely noticed since finishing school I'm starting to "slip" even though I read and
write. I guess maybe I need to start doing homework haha!
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